One year of Hophaus: a quick wander through memory lane
WHAT A YEAR!
Since our bier- and schnapps-fuelled opening weekend bash in late May 2014, we’ve experienced a rollicking ride of firsts: a massive German-dominated World Cup football series, our righteous ‘Hoptober’ celebration week, and an unforgettable maiden Weinachtessen Xmas Day brunch.
A wild Sylvester Nacht NYE party flung us full pelt into the fresh year: new delicious biers, more incredible menu faves; our first ever ‘Kologne Karneval’, White Night and the Grand Prix; a Festival of German Film, Melbourne’s longest Bavarian Bier Dinner…not forgetting the thousands upon thousands of litres of the finest crisp, delicious brew in the world, served directly to your wonderful faces in between.
Hope you’ve had as good a time as we have – and don’t worry, it might be our birthday, but the drinks are still on us (as you’ll see, it wouldn’t be right any other way)…[/az_column_text]
The many (odd) birthday customs of Germany
As expected, there are many differences in festive custom between Australia and Germany. But perhaps the most glaring one of all is that, when it comes to your birthday, you’re the one lumping all the work – and that includes making sure your guests are adequately soused.
It might be the Australian way to treat the birthday boy or girl to a night of endless, free drinks, but in Deutschland, its completely vice versa: the drinks are on you (as well as the food, the venue and the entertainment). So keep that guest list tight or your Sparschweinchen might go bust overnight.
The Germans, as we know, are a timely lot. There is a time for all things: a time, and that time only – don’t ever wish anyone a happy birthday before or after their actual day of birth. It is considered bad luck, and at worst, could induce your last birthday.
This includes all greeting forms – stop licking that early b’day card and put it down: no one wants the kibosh put on their big day.
In Northern Germany, birthday traditions can be fairly discriminatory of those who probably least deserve it. For example, if at the time of your birthday you happen to have the misfortune of being both single and over 30, tradition will demand that you sweat from a variety of chores: for the ladies, a customary, if not vaguely bizarre, polishing of doorknobs; for the men, the ritualistic sweeping of the town hall steps. Those doorknobs are to be cleaned with a toothbrush by the way; and you’re going to be attired in something fairly embarrassing, probably drag (we suggest you keep it fresh, with catwoman suit sans rear end/asymmetric man thong/skimpy lederhosen, etc.).
Yes, civic duty fused with cross-dressing is considered in Germany a fine way to publicly humiliate the unmarried, and get convivial. But don’t fret – if you’re not down with manual labour on your Geburtstag, (or wearing drag) there’s a way out. All you need to do is steal a kiss from a member of the opposite sex, preferably a virgin.
Each age has it’s unique set of rituals too. Kindergarteners are crowned the Birthday Prince or Princess for the day and are free of chores and homework; all classroom decisions go through them first, making them drunk with power. Sweet sixteens can expect to be flour-bombed (known as ‘antiquing’ in some parts of the world); while those about to turn eighteen might do their best to wear a raincoat, or motor helmet, for they will almost certainly be in for a righteous egg cracking at the hands of all nearest and dearest.
If you haven’t yet caught the drift, birthdays in Germany are, to quote The Telegraph’s Brian Melican, a Really Big Deal: a country in which the “fervour and effort put into remembering and congratulating people on birthdays” puts all others to shame.
Hophaus will most definitely need to conjure some remedies to avoid future messy embarrassments, but thankfully, this year is only our first.